On the 27th September 1908, the first Model T Ford automobile rolled out of the Piquette Avenue factory in Detroit. Although some sources claim that the first Model T was built four days later – on 1st October – research shows that this was actually the date on which the new model was available for delivery.
The new Model T wasn’t the first to be produced by the Ford company, but it was significant for being the first widely-affordable car. While the low cost was ultimately achieved thanks to an innovative ‘assembly line’ process, it’s important to note that the first models were built and assembled largely by hand. Only 11 cars were completed in the first month of production.
Ford’s assembly line divided the construction of the car into 84 areas, reducing the knowledge and skills that a worker had to master. Conveyor belts would move the vehicle from labourer to labourer, and as the assembly line was refined a new Model T rolled off the line every three minutes – a construction time that was so quick that the paint barely had time to dry. It was for this reason that Ford only painted the car in japan black, as it was the only coating that dried quickly enough.
The car was enormously successful, and at one point half of all automobiles on the road were not just Ford cars but Model Ts. Even as other companies began competing, the Model T continued to be produced with production only being brought to a halt in 1927 – 19 years after the first one rolled out of the factory.